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Scott Mills on 24 years at Radio 1: 'Keep it simple and be kind'


Scott Mills on 24 years at Radio 1: 'Keep it simple and be kind'

Think of Scott Mills and you think of Radio 1. The legendary DJ started at the station in 1998 and has gathered an army of fans over the last 24 years. His final show this afternoon marks the end of an era before he makes the short move to Radio 2 to take over from Steve Wright. Scott might be best known as the voice that's brought the nation the UK Official's Chart Show and invented countless silly games with his co-presenter, and best mate, Chris Stark to make listeners fall over laughing. None of their listeners will forget features like the Who Game or Innuendo Bingo where Chris and a celebrity face each other with a mouthful of water and try not to laugh while listening to funny clips. But there have also been more serious moments to contend with across his two decades at Radio 1. From the tragedy of the 7/7 London bombings in 2005, to the aftermath of the 2017 Manchester Arena attack and the Covid pandemic lockdown of 2020 - Scott has been on the airwaves taking listeners through difficult moments. Whether it's being on-air as events are unfolding such as with 7/7 or an emotional reflection the day after like with the Manchester Arena, Scott's motto has always been to "keep it simple". "You just have to be aware of your tone and what you say," he tells Newsbeat as he looks back over his 24 years at Radio 1. "You don't know all the information yet. So what we did is to tone down the features, the music and wait to get advice on what was actually happening." During Covid, Scott says it was important to let the news deal with what was happening and for him to "provide some light relief because it was a scary time". "We just tried to provide that escapism and keep people going through it," he says. But he admits Prime Minister Boris Johnson being taken into intensive care after he was diagnosed with Covid was "one of the scariest" moments he had on the airwaves. Co-presenter Chris says times like the pandemic made them aware how important it was to "be a space that people can feel like they have someone to talk to". So, just how has Scott stayed at the top for so long at the radio station he "pretended to be on in my bedroom from the age of six". "Just being yourself and being kind to the people around you, I think that's the key," he says. Scott was joined by Chris at Radio 1 in 2012 and their bromance has blossomed over the last 10 years - but Chris found his way on to the show almost by fluke. "He used to call up, just as my mate when he was a student. We used to get him on and he was just really funny," Scott says. Chris, who is also leaving the station after today's show, says it has been "an honour personally to share this time with Scott". "It's a genuine friendship that that ended up spilling out onto Radio 1 and a lot has changed in 10 years," he says. Scott adds: "I can literally finish his sentences and he knows exactly on air when I'm having a bit of a struggle and don't know what to do next." And any mention of Scott and Chris is incomplete without another Innuendo Bingo reference which, in a fitting end to their time at Radio 1, they both took part in as contestants for the first time this week. The game is so iconic that even Prince William has told them he loves it, according to Scott. And when pushed the pair say it would take a big name to tempt them to bring it back. "If Barack Obama steps up, I think that's the deal we'll make," says Chris. "He would get the game and we'd love it," adds Scott. By Ben Mundy, Newsbeat deputy editor The thing that struck me when I worked closely with Scott and Chris was their professionalism. They are both dedicated to their craft - making sure every single second of their show is perfect. Whether in the room with them or watching from afar in the news studio, you get to see what happens between the songs. And you would be wrong for thinking they're talking about last night's football (or Eurovision) and generally catching up, because instead they are laser focused on the next bit of content. The one thing that struck me in our interview was not just how close they are as friends - I knew that and any listener can hear that. It was more their passion to be there for their audience as a support mechanism - and none more so than during the pandemic. A scary, and at times confusing, period for Radio 1's core audience of 15-24 year olds. But they were able to entertain, inform and support. Reading, the often grim, news on their show for two years during the pandemic was a challenge. But doing it alongside Scott and Chris made it all the more bearable because of their ability to lift the mood and offer an escapism. Follow Newsbeat on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Listen to Newsbeat live at 12:45 and 17:45 weekdays - or listen back here.
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28 of September 2023